Thomas Martin was born in Devon, England in 1797. His parents were Richard and Sarah Martin. He married Mary in West Putford in Devon, England on 27th December 1827. Mary was also born in Devon and her parents were John and Mary Evans (née Woodcock). Thomas Martin emigrated with his wife Mary, their 5 eldest children and his father-in-law John Evans to Australia in September 1840 on board “Lysander”. Thomas and Mary Martin had 7 children: Mary Ann, Charlotte, Richard, Catherine, Elizabeth, Thomas (Junior) and John.
Thomas was listed as a Hotel Keeper and Farmer. They lived at Marion and Plympton for a few years where they farmed some land. They then settled at Port Willunga by 1846 and occupied section 386 of Port Willunga.
Thomas set to work building a large family home on his section of land at Port Willunga and soon realised that there was a need for a Hotel in the busy Port, so he turned his home into a Hotel called The Pier Hotel. The building became locally known as “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”.
It was licensed from 1852, until his death in 1862. The family also ran a very successful farm and leased many more sections of land that they also farmed. Their religion was recorded as Church of England/Anglican. They may have both been illiterate as some of their signatures appear with only a mark “X”. These documents Include Thomas’ Will and Mary’s Marriage Certificate to Henry Skellett, her second husband.
Thomas, aged 65 years, died on 12 September 1862 after a long illness and was buried in St Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery, Willunga. He left everything to his wife Mary in his will. When she died, it was to be split up between their children. The executors of his will were Thomas Whinnerah and John Pengilly, who was also on board “Lysander” with the Martins.
Mary remarried in 1864 to Henry Skellett at the Wesleyan Church, Pirie Street, Adelaide. He was a local butcher (uncle to Francis Hart) but they did not have any children. Henry died in 1904. Mary died in 1887 at Port Willunga and she is buried in St Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery, Willunga with Thomas.
Thomas and Mary Martin gravestone erected by their descendants in the St Stephen’s Anglican Cemetery in 1990 (photos by Mark Staniforth)
Main Picture: The ruins of Martins Farm in Martin Road, Port Willunga.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sara Livsey is a local resident of White’s Valley and she is currently researching for a new heritage walk at Port Willunga:
Willunga District Heritage Walks Program
National Trust (Willunga)